The Dark Tower review
Looks like we’ve got another Stephen King adaptation, so let’s talk about him. King remains one of the most iconic and best writers today, penning some great horror stories like Misery, The Shining, Cujo, and Carrie. He’s gone outside of the horror genre with The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Though if you were to ask any hardcore king fan what they think is his masterpiece, then most would say The Dark Tower. It’s said that this is a combination of Lord of the Rings-style fantasy with western tropes like having a quiet gunman as the hero and a cowboy as the savior.
It also seems to tap into the idea that our dreams could be visions of another world. As kids, we’re always coming up with interesting characters and ways to play. I can’t count how many times that I had my doodles confiscated by my teacher, each with their own personality and backstory. I may have not placed it on paper, but the stories were played out in my mind. Our main character is also a child who sees images of cowboys and sorcerers in his dreams. Let’s see if The Dark Tower can finally bring this popular novel to life.
Young boy Jake Chambers (played by Tom Taylor) is an outcast from his mother and stepfather and his peers as he’s saying that he’s having constant dreams about a “gunslinger” and “the man in black”. His parents dismiss this to a reaction to his father’s death in a fire and have him go to therapy sessions to resolve this. After escaping a group of people that want to take him to a facility upstate (it turned out they were creatures from another world), he tracks down a house that was also a frequent vision. After fighting the “evil house demon”, he enters a teleportor that takes him to a new world.
When Jake takes a drink from a canteen, the gunslinger (played by Idris Elba) demands to know who he is. Jakes explains his visions and even gives him one of his own drawings for proof. The gunslinger then talks about how the dark tower that is seen the most by the kid is what holds the universe and the parallel worlds together and that “the man in black” Walter Padick (played by Matthew McConaughey) is trying to take it down. Walter is trying to get to Jake while the Gunslinger remains his protector while looking to defeat “the man in black”.
I’m fully aware that The Dark Tower had been in back burner for Hollywood for years and went through several idea people like J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard. The final product is disappointing as I see a lot of potential for this to become a franchise, only for it to come out very…standard. I get the feeling that the movie was originally a lot longer, as the short hour and a half running time seems to rush through one scene after another. It’s edited alright, but I want to see what got cut out.
The story isn’t as complex as you’d expect, but it never feels as big and grand as it wants to. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that this movie takes itself a tad too seriously. In fact, one of the films highlights is Matthew McConaughey who put’s a lot of ham into his performance, making him goofy, but intimidating. He steels each scene, so whenever the movie cuts from him, I’m simply waiting for him to come back. Idris Elba, a normally good performer, is very dull as the gunslinger. It simply was not good casting (I could have seen a Stallone or Dwayne Johnson pull this material better).
I get the feeling that book fans are going to be irritated by this adaptation, but typical moviegoers may find a bit more. It’s not to say that this is a good movie, but it is short and it does fine on the action. The Dark Tower seems to be standing in an odd place: somewhere between a grand universe and an all too safe studio trying to make it appeal to everyone. This clearly should have been an HBO or Netflix miniseries rather then a movie.
I’ll give this three dark towers out of five. I’ll say that if you’re a fan of The Dark Tower book series, this’ll probably anger you. Everyone else shouldn’t have much of an issue. It’s just that with better Stephen King movies out there that have a lot more weight and entertainment. This is no magnum opus of the author, but it should provide enough action for a rainy Saturday on TV.